Will Sohrab Moradi and Kianoush Rostami qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

Moradi vs Rostami – Tokyo 2020

As we head towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics the topic that most fans want answering, or at least want questioned, is which of the -96 kg weightlifting Goliaths is going to take Iran’s spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

So before we delve into the stats and strategy, it might be worth taking a quick refresher course on the Olympic qualification procedures with our Tokyo 2020 Qualifying Guide.

Onto the stats…

Sohrab Moradi preparing for a 233 kg clean & jerk world record at the 2017 WWCs (credit – Lifting Life)

Age – 30
International Medals – 18
World Records – 6
Sinclair – 473.6 / 39th ever
World Titles – 2
Olympic Titles – 1

Iranian Weightlifter Kianoush Rostami snatches 130 kg at the 2017 World Championships
Kianoush Rostami warming up at the 2017 WWCs with a 130 kg snatch (credit – Lifting Life)

Age – 27
International Medals – 27
World Records – 3
Sinclair – 472.1 / 44th ever 
World Titles – 2
Olympic Titles – 1

Only one athlete can represent their country in a single weight class at the Olympic games. With the removal of the 89 kg class from the Olympic weight classes both Sohrab Moradi and Kianoush Rostami are forced into the 96 kg class. Unless Iran Weightlifting makes a full reshuffling of the team and move two-time world champion Ali Hashemi up to the 109 kg class, Sohrab Moradi up to the 102 kg class, and keep Kianoush Rostami in the 96 kg class (As pointed out by user:Jerker, the 102 kg class is also not in the Olympics), we will not see both of these Olympic champions in Tokyo.

Here is what makes the selection so difficult. Despite Sohrab Moradi performing at a higher level in the 94/96 kg weight class than Kianoush Rostami, Moradi is currently awaiting spinal surgery in Germany. One of the criteria that must be fulfilled by Olympic hungry weightlifters is that they must each compete in each of the three six month qualifying periods. With Moradi now expected to take between six and nine months to recover from surgery, his likelihood of competing in the second qualification period which ends at the end of October drops. If recovery goes to plan and Sohrab is able to compete at the 2019 World Championships in September 2019 and puts up a reasonable total then he will still be in the running to take Iran’s spot in the 96 kg class. If however Sohrab is unable to lift or puts up a poor total then his chances of reclaiming the spot from Rostami will be almost impossible.

So how does the qualification work?

Each athlete’s final ranking score is based on their best score from each six-month period, plus their next-best result. So, Moradi will need to make a total at a qualifying event during the second qualifying period (May–October 2019). If he only manages one competition in that time, it will be part of his final score even if recovery from surgery forces a lower total.

With four of the six competitions counting towards Olympic qualification, athletes can only have two ‘weigh-in only meets’. Sohrab Moradi will have a lot to do in the third six month period having already used up one of his ‘weigh-in only meets’ at the 2019 Fajr Cup. Not only will Sohrab have his return from surgery to contend with, but on top of that he has so far only put up a total in one Olympic qualifier, albeit a gold tier competition (providing him with a 10% Robi bonus). Rostami however has totaled in two competitions (Egat Cup & Fajr Cup), and is now on the team for the Asian Championships, a gold tier event.

It is worth mentioning that Moradi’s position is helped by the huge 1,242 Robi points that he scored at the 2018 World Championships (possible by setting all new world records plus the 10% bonus). Rostami scored 927 Robi points at the recent Fajr Cup and will score 1,020 Robi points if he hits the same 392 kg total at the 2019 Asian Championships in April (due to the Robi bonus).

So what will Moradi have to do?

It is possible that Moradi could gain modest points in the second qualifying period, followed by two big performances in the third period to finish above Rostami in the rankings. Of course, that will depend on a successful recovery from surgery, the outcome of which is not entirely in his hands. Moradi will almost certainly have to compete at the only current gold tier event in the third qualification period, the Asian Championships in April, and at the silver tier Fajr Cup in February. In the meantime I think we can expect to see Rostami compete at as many qualifiers as possible in order to have the highest chance of hitting the best totals he can to stay ahead of Moradi.

Whilst Sohrab Moradi has put up the bigger numbers his spinal surgery has definitely placed Kianoush Rostami back into the driver’s seat.

Let us know what you think.

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